Thursday, May 19, 2011

WHO Calls for Changes in Medical Education on Headache Disorders

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Despite the fact that headache disorders burden an extraordinary number of people across the world, an average of four hours is dedicated to all headache disorders in formal undergraduate medical education and 10 hours in specialty education. Given this reality it's no wonder headache disorders are underdiagnosed, undertreated and minimized. How should the focus of medical education change to better address the worldwide burden of headache disorders?

The World Health Organization in it's recent Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011 says education is the single most important factor in improving headache and migraine care. They suggest there is a need for more education at all levels that addresses how to diagnose and treat the most burdensome headache disorders.

Only about 40% of people worldwide with migraine and tension-type headache have been professionally diagnosed. Just 56% of physicians are using the International Headache Society Classification criteria for establishing the diagnoses that are being made. Instruments that assess the burden of headache disorders, such as MIDAS (the Migraine Disability Assessment Test), which is used for assessing migraine burden, are only being used in 24% of responding countries and very, very infrequently in low and lower-middle income countries.

Although headache disorder organizations for professionals are active in holding conferences, promoting awareness and helping set guidelines for the management of migraine and other headache disorders, they are rarely involved in determining the content to be included in medical education. Incorporating their input would be a natural way to improve current education about headache disorders among medical professionals.

Considering the extraordinary personal and economic burden of headache disorders there must be a shift that places more emphasis on headache disorders as a higher priority for medical education that what's currently allocated.

World Health Organization Atlas of Headache Disorders & Resources in the World 2011

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.